Well, it happened. It got even bigger, this Super Bowl of the art world. With some dozen and a half fairs, Miami in early December is Art World. And everyone was there, catching up with art esthetics, theories, and achievements that seemed endless and bright. I quickly became simultaneously entrenched and overwhelmed as I took in the first day and a half with friends Betty (art shipper and curator), Robert (gallerist and projects person), and Carl (artist and dealer). I found Carl the most fascinating, since this year was his first time seeing this fair extravaganza; despite Carlâ€™s newness here, he expressed definite opinions and valuable insights as we bounced from booth to room, from fair to exhibition. The second day ended with another old friend, Gae, and a new one, Rupert, who, as exhibitors, brought even more insights to my already overflowing plate.
And there is one more big reason to smile here. There are so many who have made it to this point, who deserve this stage, that I could not help but feel good about.
It is a given that Basel is grand, stupendous - the heartbeat of the core that feels like the energy stored up in a volcano. And it was great to see works such Michael Anderson's mesmerizing collages at the Marlborough booth, which are painterly and potent.
The other perennial show to see, Scope, offers galleries such as Ricco Maresca, offering the magical life forms in ceramic by Christopher Adams. The gutsy and fresh group show of contemporary Polish artists at Kasia Kay Art Projects; the creepy cool works on paper by the Icelander Sigga Bjorg SigurdardÃ³ttir at Galerie Adler; and the crisp cross-section of new realist art at the booth of ADA gallery were all show-stoppers.
Two fairs were so strong and so vibrant that they held all of my allotted attention. The first is Flow, which was put together and run by Matt Garson of M%. He managed to amass just the right 18 institutions. Arthur Roger Gallery featured stirring post-Katrina Louisiana portraits by David Bates (above); the Anime-esque photo portraits of fab-female nubiles by Chris Scarborough at Marcia Wood Gallery were sheer knockouts -- to name just a few.
Then there was the Bridge fair, with its edgy, funked-out aesthetic most noticeable in the over-the-top Billy Shire Fine Arts Gallery. Bleu Acier Inc. from nearby Tampa was another great find, a gallery that displayed discerning taste and vision, featuring a unique combination of styles and media. Here, I found the paintings of Elisabeth Condon to be particularly fine and compelling, while Marie Yoho Dorseyâ€™s stitched fabric paintings were quite beautiful. Then there is Rupert Ravens Contemporary with its amazing constructions by James A. Brown, which present a down-and-dirty sweet darkness that continues in the paintings of German Pitre.
I also managed a gander at the local art scene in the Wynwood Art District, and found it world class on many levels. Kevin Bruk Gallery had a show of Fabian Maraccio's works, which were as twisted as painting can get. The gallery also features the elusive, yet solid works of Richard Butler, and the quirky and sexual narrative drawings of Su-en Wong, which rounded out that program nicely.
Then there is Praxis, another fine gallery featuring a number of sculptures by Ruben Torres Llorca that are well delivered conceptually and incredibly well-crafted.
Over at the Design District, I took a long look at Design Miami, a multi-level fair featuring incredible examples of modern and contemporary design. There, I found the objects comprised of reclaimed and reoriented ceramic statues in David Gill Gallery by Barnaby Barford to be quite profound and funny in a sea of high design steeped in pivotal works and potent trends.
Next year... â€“ D. Dominick Lombardi
D. Dominick Lombardi is an artist with representation in Kasia Kay Art Projects and Lisa Boyle Gallery in Chicago, and Van Brunt Gallery in Beacon, NY; a writer with Sculpture, DART, & Magazine and NYARTS; and an independent curator.